Building relevance for print in an online world

By Daisuke Hori


INNOVATION has brought great developments in many industries – some of which has seen rapid changes over the last few months. The commercial printing industry is no exception to this – how does a traditional print industry keep up with innovation?

There are a variety of trends affecting the niche industry over the past few years; nevertheless, the pandemic has greatly sped up or even to a certain extent, created, some of them in the recent months. 

On-demand labels takes centre stage

The rise of micro, home-based businesses during the pandemic have boosted the need for on-demand label printings for shopping labels and information packaging labels. Restaurants, for example, are one of the key players in driving this demand with their takeaway orders.

To maintain a low printing costs, some have chosen ink tank monochrome printers for a more affordable and sustainable option. It has the lowest total cost of ownership for printers in their class, high reliability, low customer hassle and a small footprint for those with limited space.

Apart from home-based businesses, the importance of labels also takes centre stage in a very crucial industry – the healthcare sector. Innovative, quality labels play a critical role in maintaining order and clarity while ensuring patient safety.

Everyday labels such as warning signs, vaccine and medication labels, and equipment labels are all part of the healthcare solutions throughout this pandemic.

With vaccines rolling out worldwide in the coming year, it’s no surprise that this trend will continue to increase as health and safety remains a priority.

Greater demand for security to support a hybrid workforce

With an increasingly hybrid workforce globally, the importance of cybersecurity hygiene has also moved beyond offices to our homes. This, coupled with the rise of Internet-of-Things (IoT), have caused a developing concern on the majority of technology-focused companies, which has begun affecting the printing industry.

Daisuke Hori

Whether it’s for personal or professional use, consumers usually print documents that contain a large amount of sensitive information, which explains the emphasis on the need for security. Because of this, many printing companies have started to educate consumers and businesses on the built-in security features of their product.

For example, the Epson WorkForce Pro printers promotes confidential printing via secure PIN code function. By inputting a PIN which is created by an Enrollee (your machine) to the Registrar (a device that manages the wireless LAN), you can setup the wireless network and security settings.

Not only so, employees access to office Epson scanners, for example, can also be limited via a control panel. This means that the entire networked scanner fleet can be centralised, giving the company maximum control and protection.

Increased sustainability

According to the 2019 Brand Track SEA Survey Report by Intuit, almost 70% of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) indicated they would prefer an office printer that is environmentally-friendly. 

This is usually done through product innovation that promotes greener usage. As a global printing technology leader, Epson is doing so through our Heat-Free technology.

When it comes to the environmental footprint of an office, usage of printers can have more impact than one might think. For example, Epson’s business inkjet printers consume 85% less energy and emit less carbon dioxide than a laser printer as they do not require heat to eject ink onto the paper.

With this, businesses can enjoy greater convenience and savings as these printers deliver high printing volumes at low running costs.

Consumers also play an important role in supporting greener technology. They must educate themselves on how the brand they support operates, their commitment towards producing environmental-friendly products, and the technology owned by the company.

That way, we can truly become part of the global sustainability movement, helping Malaysia to advance in our environmental goals.

Epson WorkForce Pro printer

Increased personalisation on both online and offline

Much like how hyper-personalisation is making waves in the digital front, print has also observed an increased demand in personalisation.

Customer databases and automation capabilities make this easily achievable on digital – but integrated with print, the impact could bring long term customer loyalty. Ecommerce players are playing this personalisation to their advantage.

Human elements are most difficult to replicate online – that’s why people tend to keep handwritten cards, gift boxes, and letters etc because they have emotional value.

According to Marketing Insider Group, 78% of consumers find that personalized content increases their purchase intent for a brand’s products and services.  While most of these are done online through automated marketing, but the same level of customisation can be done on print.

Many printing companies today have expanded the number of services that they can offer in terms of design and layout via a range of technology.

A common example would be personalisation done through life event targeting, offering a unique chance to engage with customers during an emotional time in their lives. For example, brands can deliver a personalised card during birthdays, holidays, or even discount vouchers for retargeting.

In addition, there are also applications, like the Epson Creative Print App, which provides a simple, highly customizable layout for printing. Innovative, digital textile printing technology have also allowed fashion designers to take creativity to the next level with more vibrant, detailed prints in smaller runs.

The print industry is niche, with majority of printing companies (72.2%) being in business for over two decades. 

With the world moving quickly to the online space, printing companies would have to continue evolving with time to remain sustainable.

New trends will continue to emerge and it’s up to us, the leaders in printing technology, to uphold the standards and set an example for fellow retailers to stay afloat in the unprecedented future. – Feb 14, 2021


Daisuke Hori is the managing director of Epson Malaysia.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


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